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Unconditional Love

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I have recently been discussing the concept of unconditional love with some friends.

My friends all seem to agree that it is obligatory (warning bells) to give unconditional love in the case, for example, of close family members and that it is extremely comforting to receive unconditional love in return.

I am having a hard time fathoming this position, perhaps because of the implicit religious overtones.

I think that close family members should be judged by the same standards as anyone else (although I think familiarity would extend to them a greater benefit of the doubt).

I seem to be viewed as the heartless beast during these conversations....so I would be interested to learn the Objectivist stance on this concept.

A couple of specific examples:

If a child become an ax murderer........does he deserve his parents UCL?

If a child becomes a parasitic moocher........does he deserve UCL?

Brent

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My friends all seem to agree that it is obligatory (warning bells) to give unconditional love in the case, for example, of  close family members and that it is extremely comforting to receive unconditional love in return.

You should seek more rational friends.

I think that close family members should be judged by the same standards as anyone else

That's correct.

(although I think familiarity would extend to them a greater benefit of the doubt).

Why so?

I seem to be viewed as the heartless beast during these conversations...

Actually, it's the people who advocate unconditional love that are heartless.

A couple of specific examples:

If a child become an ax murderer........does he deserve his parents UCL?

If a child becomes a parasitic moocher........does he deserve UCL?

No person ever deserves to be loved unless he deserves to be loved. A murderer or a moocher deserves to be despised, not loved!

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I AM seeking more rational friends........man they are hard to find in Niagara Falls and I am still waiting for a reply from the Toronto Objectivist Club! :blush:

Re family members and benefit of the doubt.......

1) I have more invested in them

2) Blood actually is thicker than water

3) they might have picked up some of their objectionable characteristics from me ;)

Re "No person deserves to be loved......".....do you have children???

Brent

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I AM seeking more rational friends........man they are hard to find in Niagara Falls and I am still waiting for a reply from the Toronto Objectivist Club!  :blush:

Re family members and benefit of the doubt.......

1) I have more invested in them

2) Blood actually is thicker than water

3) they might have picked up some of their objectionable characteristics from me ;)

Re "No person deserves to be loved......".....do you have children???

Brent

What do you mean by:

1. Blood is thicker than water (apart from literally of course). AND

2. They might have picked up some of their objectionable characteristics from me?

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What do you mean by:

1. Blood is thicker than water (apart from literally of course). AND

2. They might have picked up some of their objectionable characteristics from me?

The phrase: "blood is thicker than water" implies that FAMILY should be loved no matter what...it's based in altruism and I don't believe that anymore.

A friend of mine told me a long time ago (when some bad things were happening between me and a family member) that blood is NO thicker than water (to put a different spin on that phrase).

He was a very rational man....

The concept of unconditional love reeks of altruism and negates logic ESPECIALLY in situations when family members do horrible things.

~Michael

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What do you mean by:

1. Blood is thicker than water (apart from literally of course). AND

2. They might have picked up some of their objectionable characteristics from me?

Concerto,

1. Is an expression that means that someone who is related by blood is closer than a non-related friend or acquantance. Depending on how close one's family is it implies that one would show more "loyalty" to a relative than to a friend in hypothetically equivalent circumstances.

Now that you have me thinking about it it seems like trible loyalty.....and not very rational......but I think it exists.

2. In the case of a father/son relationship, some of the characteristics that a parent might find hard to love might be characteristics that the child learned from the parent. To take an extreme example....a muderer may have learned anger from hid father.....but the father may never have murdered (or come close to it).

Brent

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I think that in large part it really depends on what they mean by "unconditional love." If you mean what the phrase literally implies then that is totally absurd.

Husband: "Hi honey, I'm home. So what did you do today?"

Wife: "I chopped up our only son and made a stew of him, want a taste?"

Husband: "Well that was a bad thing you did, but I unconditionally love you so... yeah I guess I'll have a sip!"

If, instead, something else is meant then 1.) it should not be called "unconditional love" and 2.) it needs to be clarified as to what exactly everyone is talking about.

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Oh, I know what the phrase "blood is thicker than water" refers to. I just thought that perhaps you may be using the phrase in a different way to what it originally refers to in order to justify your feelings towards your family. The fact that he wrote "actually" thicker than water made me think that perhaps you even meant in a literal / semi-literal way. But anyway, yes, it is a very tribe-like irrational mentality.

The picking up objectionable characteristics idea sounds very much like some sort of unearned guilt issue that you may have. In any case, I can't see how one can feel guilt if a free adult (such as a father or mother) 'picks up' some undesirable trait from their child.

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:blush: Unconditional love. Ugh.

Now I'll first admit that my parents are decent when it came to bringing the bacon and I respect them for that, I honestly do but I could never compromise when it came to my principles and them.

First of all, their racist...well, "people who have been kicked by the man time and time again." Not a day goes by when after spending a couple of hours their talking about "Niggaz and white folks".

Secondly their just plain pessimistic and tribalistic although my father fairs better. I remember speaking with my father about my homosexuality. He said he was disappointed only because he wanted grandchildren. I felt betrayed in some way. Who knows if I'm infertile for godsakes? I felt like I was born to be a breeding machine. Anything my mother deems wrong with my she points outside and asks what everyone else will think. "People will think your crazy! Do you even care?"

Three days ago my mother pestered me again about my personality and my desire to bridge myself personally from my parents (or most of the family in general) and her highlights were...

"There you go with that logic! Not everything is logical! Some things just is."

"You read, that's great, your a smart boy and all but you got to think about what goes on in the streets."

"Life requires compromise."

*SIGH

I get burnt out sometimes. Sometimes I feel like cursing at them.

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If you want to know what Ayn Rand thinks of unconditional love, read Atlas Shrugged. It's all there, particularly in the character of James Taggart.

People want unconditional love because it rewards and comforts them for avoiding the effort of correcting and improving themselves. The desire for and acceptance of unconditional love stems from the accepting - implicitly or explicitly - that it is impossible to be consistently moral all the time. Once this is accepted, one feels they shouldn't be blamed, judged or criticised when they make the wrong decisions, since they would be expected to act on the impossible (because acting on a vague or contradictory code of ethics consistently is impossible.) They cannot make right choices consistently or even be certain when they are making the right choice because their code of ethics and their rational mind tell them two different things. This leads to them conclude that morality itself is not objective, that nothing is necessarily right or wrong; and then they fluctuate between acting on whim and acting on what they think is the "right" thing to do.

Because of this, morality as they accept it would only get in the way of the possibility of feeling anything for each other. In order to maintain what feeling they have for each other, it is necessary to suspend their consciousness; to turn off their critical mind and accept each other on faith, just as one would leap into an abyss. They turn a blind eye to their partners' faults and conclude that this blindness is part of what love is; which by their standards, it has to be. Eventually, they can no longer ignore what is right before them and conflict errupts.

This kind of fraud is what "love" frequently means to people these days. "Love" to them is merely a causeless feeling. It can only exist by "blotting out" that which the other person knows to be wrong. Eventually, reality catches up with them, and they see the irrational and while they know they don't like it, they can't turn to morality for guidance in order to explain why what they think is wrong, is wrong. Eventually they shrug and say "Who am I to know?" and in fear of lonliness, they scramble to blot out the irrational once more.

Thus, the spectacle you see in relationships where the two lovers oscillate between mutual affection and mutual resentment, quarreling and compromising endlessly. Unconditional love is an escape from reality.

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To love is to value. "the ultimate form of recognition granted to superlative values" to quote Ayn Rand. That is what sets love apart from other emotions. Unconditional love is degrading the concept of love. It means that a husband is supposed to love his wife and another woman equally in the same way. It justifies extramarital affairs.

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Areactor,

I remember speaking with my father about my homosexuality. He said he was disappointed only because he wanted grandchildren. I felt betrayed in some way.

My brother reacted in exactly the same way when his son told him he was gay.

This doesn't excuse the reaction but immediate reactions are not always a true testament to character.

My mother and father sent my wife and I a "nice" little card on the birth of our daughter (who has Down syndrome) telling us how sad they felt that such a "terrible thing" should happen to a nice couple like us!!!

At the time I was glad my Dad was 5,000km away 'cause I could have slugged him.

Three days ago my mother pestered me again about my personality and my desire to bridge myself personally from my parents (or most of the family in general) and her highlights were...

"There you go with that logic! Not everything is logical! Some things just is."

She is wrong.

"You read, that's great, your a smart boy and all but you got to think about what goes on in the streets."

She is right.

"Life requires compromise."

She is wrong again.

Since the vast majority of people are full of internal contradictions and since an intregrated personality is not yet a requirement for child bearing or rearing......most people just don't have great parents. It is also true that most parents don't have great children! :confused:

I still think there is a bond between parents and children that is hard-wired. That acts over and above the logical analysis of a friendship. Genetic similarity?

Regards,

Brent

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Rolfe:

What is THAT supposed to mean? That children who do not deserve love should be loved anyway? That's a highly irrational attitude, and I hope it's not what you are saying.

Now I am really curious as to whether or not you have children! :confused:

It is supposed to imply that sometimes a parents needs to have, at least temporarily, unconditional love for their child in order to overlook a transgression long enough to teach them not to do it again........rather than euthenising the little demons on the spot! :)

Brent

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Today I asked a colleague of mine, who is a family counsellor, about his view of unconditional love.

He told me the story of his father in WWII who, towards the end of the war, found himself faced, in mortal combat, with 14 year old German boys. It was a situation of him or them, so he shot to kill. According to the counsellor, the fact that his father recognised these boys "humanity" and killed them with a "heavy heart", rather than acting with hatred demonstrated unconditional love.

Is it me? Or is somebody fooling themselves here? :dough:

Brent

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It is supposed to imply that sometimes a parents needs to have, at least temporarily, unconditional love for their child in order to overlook a transgression long enough to teach them not to do it again........rather than euthenising the little demons on the spot!  :dough:

:D Okay that's an answer I didn't expect, and can accept.

I don't have kids, but I don't think I've ever met a child who is that awful, though I'm sure some must exist somewhere. Free will and all that.

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Now I am really curious as to whether or not you have children!  :dough:

Please note: Inspector != Capitalism Forever ;)

To answer your question: I do not have children yet.

To respond to your answer to Inspector:

It is supposed to imply that sometimes a parents needs to have, at least temporarily, unconditional love for their child in order to overlook a transgression long enough to teach them not to do it again........rather than euthenising the little demons on the spot!  :D

The advocates of unconditional love don't usually have a temporary thing in mind: they hold unconditional love as a universal principle that has to be applied to everyone all the time.

When you have a newborn child--say, a little daughter--initially you don't love her for her character, as her character hasn't developed yet. You love her because she is cute, because she was born of the woman you cherish the most, and because she has the potential to become a great person. When she does something ill-advised, you know she didn't do it out of malice but because she lacks the experience to make proper judgments. THAT is why you continue to love her despite her "transgression" and that is why you teach her not to do it again.

To love something means to value it and be willing to give up lesser values for it. When you refuel your car at the gas station, it costs you money, but you don't begin to hate your car for the "transgression" of consuming fuel. You know that this is part of the package, and you evaluate the "package" as a whole. It's the same with your little daughter: When she breaks your vase, you don't begin to hate her, because when looking at the whole "package," you know that it's better to have a daughter AND the possibility of some domestic damage than to have all your vases intact but not have any children.

It is only when your daughter begins to grow up and make her own decisions that you can start to judge her by her actions. This may be difficult for a parent to accept, but the childhood of a child only lasts so long. Gradually but inexorably, your little daughter stops being your little daughter and becomes an independent individual. She is no longer yours: she is her own now. She is not a cute baby or a lovely little girl anymore, but a volitional being, capable of doing good as well as evil, with the choice being hers and only hers. You cannot love her for the reason you loved her when she was your innocent little daughter--as she is neither little nor yours, and her innocence is now hers to keep or discard. If she becomes a virtuous person, then you can love her for that--but ONLY THEN.

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Yes, you are right. By definition unconditional love is clearly irrational. The concept has always smacked of christianity to me.

You are right again. I think the difficulty here (for the parent at least.....for me as a parent for sure :dough: ) is that during the "individuation" stage of adolescence the child may do some things that the parent does not view as virtuous and may display behaviours that the parent never instilled in the child. During this stage, as far as I can see, the parents can only rely on the assumption that the child's underlying values and character are virtuous.

It is during these times that the benefit of the doubt I wrote of earlier (perhaps unconditional love is too strong a term) comes in to play.

BTW my son goes off to school on Sunday :D;):):):)

Regards,

Brent

PS I am experimenting with quoting....as yet obviously unsuccesfuly....bear with me.

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I'd like to apologize in advance, but I am going to do that all to common thing of mine and reply to the initial post without reading all of the responses (I don't have time, unfortunately). I apologize if I am echoing anyone else's response.

Before you can answer your specific questions:

A couple of specific examples:

If a child become an ax murderer........does he deserve his parents UCL?

If a child becomes a parasitic moocher........does he deserve UCL?

you need to look at the definition of unconditional love. What is love without conditions? It would be love without any standard for judging anyone, and because of that you would be required to love everyone equally (very much the root of egalitarian thought).

Love is an expression of appreciation for another person's values. In order to appreciate values you have to have a standard (a set of non-contradictory values of your own) to measure them against. Unconditional love becomes a contradiction when love is given this rational definition.

Unconditional = no standards vs. Love = requires standards

So then you can apply this to your examples:

If a child become an ax murderer........does he deserve his parents UCL?

Since we've ruled out UCL being valid, let's just stick with love. Does this child turned axe murderer deserve his parent's love? It depends on their values. But if they value life, and rationality then they could not love him.

If a child becomes a parasitic moocher........does he deserve UCL?

Again, it depends on their values. But if they value independence and integrity then no, they would not love him.

Of course the virtues of rationality, independence, and integrity have to be grasped atop the fundamental that we exist and that we are capable of percieving reality. Without that people can create any kind of convoluted system of values they want, which is why "unconditional love" is a contradiction that exists in the predominant philosophy in the world today.

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Before you can answer your specific questions:

you need to look at the definition of unconditional love.

It might also be helpful to look at the facts in reality that tempt people to come up with the notion of "unconditional love".

I remember having a discussion with S.B. (a non-Objectivist parenting professional) about parenting. S.B. was explaining how children need to have some realm of "solid ground" from which to push-off and grow. Many parents, however, fail to provide this by providing only "conditional love". For example, if the kid performs some parentally desired behavior like her homework, she experiences parental love, but not if she doesn't. This kind of world experience, where in one moment "the Universe" is benevolent, and in the next it's malevolent, undercuts a child's ability to develop a healthy sense of living in a predictable, stable Universe. To provide the "solid ground", the parent needs instead to be able to express love for the child even when the child is misbehaving; even while correcting the child's behavior and providing appropriate consequences to the misbehavior. I think S.B. was about to, or had already used the term "unconditional love" to describe this, went it dawned on me that what they mean by "unconditional love", is love for the child's (developing) character - love for the person that the child is, her deeper, more permanent aspects. So I said "oh - you mean to love the child's character more than her immediate behavior or misbehavior". S.B. seemed confused, and not wanting to try to explain who Ayn Rand was and the entire Objectivist philosophy, I just said "I recently read an argument against unconditional love, how people who have causeless fear are treated for their problem, but not when they express causeless love". She had the most bizarre look on her face and said "against unconditional love ?".

Unfortunately, once this need is expressed as "unconditional love", instead of being a call to develop lovable character, it becomes the exact opposite - license to indulge in any irrational whim, and still expect to be loved.

Parents who try to implement this also fail to provide the "solid ground" that the child needs.

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